Picture Archive Post 50

Gawd, is it already 50 posts for the Picture Archive Series? It's a tad late because I'm composing it whilst waiting for a flight and time differences, but it's here!

An Actual Bus on the 297(!)
Metroline TE900 on Route 297, Ealing Broadway, 18/04/11 (© Aubrey)

Back when the allocation was bearable, the 297 had Enviro 400s and Tridents. Now the route is now with Scania N230UD/East Lancs Olympus buses (SEL) and 297N is with Volvo B9TL/Wright Gemini 2 or Volvo B5LH/Wright Gemini 3.

Starting out as the replacement of the (original) 46 Alperton-Neasden sction on the 7th February 1968 with RTs (Monday-Saturday). Running between Perivale (Bideford Avenue) and Willesden Garage, it was run from Alperton Garage. The Monday-Friday and later Saturday service was converted to single decker OPO operation with MB (Merlins) in late 1969. The route was converted back to double deck DMSs in Feburary 1972. 8 years later, the Fleetlines were replaced by MCW Metrobuses. An additional peak hour service was introduced between Willesden Garage and Wembley Trading Estate in September 1982 and lasted until December 1990. The route was extended to its present extent on 2nd June 1984 with the extension to Ealing Broadway. A Sunday service was introduced between Wembley Arena and Ealing later on that year. In June 1985, the Sunday service was extended to Willesden Garage. Under sectorisation, the route was passed to Centrewest. The route was later branded under the "Challenger" marquee, and converted to single decker Dennis Dart/Wright Handybuses (except a few Metrobuses used on the route on Monday-Friday) in December 1990. Larger Dart/Pointers were introduced onto the route in June 1997.

The route turned low-floor when Metroline took over in December 1998 from Willesden Garage. When the W8 was gained and supposed to be converted to double deckers, there was a problematic low bridge. So the 297's buses moved to the W8 and the 297 gained the W8's TPs, converting the route to double deck again in June 2003. The route was also passed from Willesden Garage to Perivale Garage. This lasted until September 2003 when the double deckers moved to the W8. The 297 was then converted to double deckers again in December of the same year using its own TPs. When the 7 was gained, a similar thing happened - the 7 gained the 297's buses, whilst the 297 gained the buses from the 7. In this case, it was loaned TNLs. This lasted during 2007 as the SELs were late for the 7 and 205. A night service was introduced to replace the withdrawn section of the N11 on 7th June 2008. In March 2009, the route moved to the ex-Thorpes garage in Perivale as the PV garage was mothballed temporarily (as storage space) until recently. The route also gained Enviro 400s. Those Enviro 400s were later replaced by SELs. Due to complaints, the night service lost SELs, replaced by various Volvo buses.

This specific TE, TE900 started out at Perivale. In order to aid fleet standardisation, the bus moved to Holloway. The bus moved to Potters Bar in January 2014, where it currently is (still). So this bus has ironically moved from the 297 to the W8!


Hybrid Top-Ups

Routes 65 and 183 have been subject to increases and therefore, top-ups. This means that an add-on to the batch of Volvo B5LH/Gemini 3s for the 85 has been delivered for both these routes. However, they do stray and are seen elsewhere:

VH on Route 267
London United VH45184 on Route 267, Gunnersbury Station (© Aubrey)

The second outing (according to LVF) and the first photographed outing of a VH on the 267. It joins similar buses (with a slightly different front) that stray from the 285 on the H91.

London United VH45184 on Route 65, Kingston
London United VH45184 on Route 65, Kingston (© Aubrey)

Ordered for the 65 to supplement a PVR increase (and a frequency increase to every 6 minutes (finally)), the VHs bring a less vibrating bus onto the 65. The contract renewal was the 2nd July, and these buses entered service on the morning of that day. Although currently, the 65 is diverted the long way round via Teddington as the road through Ham is blocked. Roadworks mean that there are several temporary routes, and the 371 doesn't run.
A full length ride (before the route was diverted) on the 65 showed that the buses tackled the various inclines on the route very well.

London Sovereign VH45194 on Route N13, Piccadilly Circus
London Sovereign VH45194 on Route N13, Piccadilly Circus (© Aubrey)

These Gemini 3s debuted on the 13, although it is a mystery why these buses actually came to London Sovereign. Some say to oust some SPs for the H14 decking, others say these are diverted buses from the 72 (which makes sense as Hammersmith Bridge is taking an age to be closed and be repaired) and others say these are simply for the 183 increase. Either way, some of these buses have started running on the 13/N13.

London Sovereign VH45188 on Route 13, Golders Green
London Sovereign VH45188 on Route 13, Golders Green (© Aubrey)

Also, there have been some London United (from Shepherd's Bush) buses that have moved over temporarily to the BT routes. Ironically, they have strayed onto the 114, of all routes!

Everything's Alwright
London Sovereign VH45159 on Route 114, Ruislip Station (© Lewis)

The 114 will be moved to Uxbridge under Metroline (using very similar buses) from the 3rd September 2016, but that'll be covered in more detail later on in a different post.

London Sovereign VH45158 on Route 114, Harrow (© Lewis)

It's a scattering of hybrids mainly to top-up on existing routes with RATP. Lovely.